In addition to what he saw from DeUnna Hendrix’s basketball team when High Point University visited Millet Hall last November, Miami University Director of Athletics David Sayler liked what he heard about Hendrix even more.
Among the proponents to hire Hendrix as the RedHawks’ ninth women’s basketball coach were Heather Cusick, who graduated as the program’s all-time leading scorer in 2003. Kurt Miller, the former Bowling Green State University coach who (unsuccessfully) recruited Hendrix, also gave his approval.
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And then there was University of California women’s coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who was familiar with Hendrix through a coaching roundtable Hendrix organizes every year during the women’s Final Four.
“(Gottlieb) said the best thing that happens at the Final Four is coach Hendrix’s sessions,” Sayler said. “That really hit home to me that this is someone who works at her craft and wants to make the student-athlete experience better.
“When you start weaving those things together I started getting a picture of somebody who’s hungry, driven and wants to win, but most importantly is a great person and treats people the right way.”
Hendrix, a native of Kokomo, Ind., was officially introduced as Miami's basketball coach Wednesday afternoon at Miami University's Walter L. Gross Jr. Family Student-Athlete Development Center. She takes over for Megan Duffy, a Chaminade Julienne High School graduate who accepted the women's basketball job at Marquette University.
Hendrix coached High Point for seven seasons and ranks third in program history with 125 victories. She led the Panthers to a 22-9 record overall and 15-3 record in the Big South. High Point reached the Women’s NIT for the second time during her tenure.
She inherits a RedHawks team that posted consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time since the 1981-82 and 1982-83 teams did it. Miami reached the WNIT in both of Duffy’s seasons as coach.
High Point played at Miami on Nov. 20 and lost 68-55, so Hendrix is already familiar with the RedHawks’ players. Now she’s working on getting to know them as individuals.
“I’ve watched film on these girls and I’ve played them. I could probably tell you their skill set,” Hendrix said. “We’ve had about three weeks to get to know one another. The transition is hard. I don’t think people understand just how hard it is. … The next three weeks that’s what we’re going to focus on.”
Hendrix played college basketball at Richmond — she graduated in 2007 — and spent time in 2008 playing professionally with the Jacksonville Cougars of the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League.
On Wednesday she thanked High Point for the opportunity to coach the Panthers. She also thanked Duffy for “laying the foundation and instilling the belief” that the RedHawks can compete for championships. That she knows the Midwest so well could also help with recruiting.
“Now I’m able to sell what Miami has done the past couple years,” Hendrix said. “I’m able to sell the Mid-American Conference, which in my opinion is the best mid-major conference in the nation. I’m able to sell some different things to kids.”